05-17-2012 01:27 AM
I assume the answer to this is "No", but perhaps someone from SAS can explain "why not"?
We are running SAS 9.2, but I have elevated rights on my desktop, and run EG 4.3 and EG 5.1 side by side. However, almost all my colleagues run EG 4.3 only, and upgrading their EG installations to 5.1 is a big exercise by IT.
I might want to create an EG 5.1 project, but then share it with other colleagues. I would think this situation would be common???
I'd also like to use 5.1 to work around the memory leak in 4.3: http://support.sas.com/kb/44/559.html.
With Microsoft Office 2007, I can save a file in 97-2003 format, in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Why isn't this possible with EG? Are there internal structures in the 5.1 projects that made it impossible to save in a backwards compatible format?
05-23-2012 07:46 PM
Well it doesn't look like anyone from SAS is going to comment, which I guess is a statement in itself.
After posting, I did find this: https://communities.sas.com/message/55576#55576. Which does make this issue appear to be a recurring theme.
Since EG 5.1 can do a one-way convert of an EG 4.3 project on loading, I do wonder why it can't reverse the process to save an EG 5.1 project in 4.3 format.
I'll just point out that this issue will delay my uptake of EG 5.1 by 12 - 18 months, until our IT department can upgrade all EG users to EG 5.1.
05-24-2012 08:55 AM
We have this problem too. Developers can update more quickly than Users. So when building a project, to distribute, I have to remember to use the earlier version or they won't be able to open it. However,on the upside you can run multiple versions simultaneously...so you could have 4.3 and 5.1 both installed on your local machine. Then you could use the later version for building Stored processes and the earlier version for distributing projects....
I think the stability of the product will eventually evolve to allow project backward-compatibility...
05-24-2012 10:50 AM
Okay Scott, I'll bite.
First, I'll acknowledge that the lack of a "Save as backward compatible" feature does slow adoption on large teams with multiple versions of the EG application. The fact that you cannot share work directly from a new version to the old version is a challenge, and the pain is felt mostly while two versions (4.3 and 5.1 in this case) are in heavy mainstream use. That's why we strive to make sure that you can run multiple versions side-by-side. (In fact, EG 2.0, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 5.1 can all coexist on the same machine.)
And project file conversion (I call it that, though others call it "migration") is heavily tested. The EG R&D team has a huge cache of project files, some developed here and others from customers, created across multiple versions of EG over the years. These files are used to test that the newest EG version can read all of the content generated by previous versions as designed, and that the integrity of that content is maintained going forward.
Every version of EG adds new features, obviously. Some features are at the project level (such as support for relative file references added in 4.3, or support for parallel processing added in 5.1). Some features are at the task/query level (such as support for subqueries in 5.1, or ODS graphics added in 4.2). Back-level versions of EG don't know about these features, so in order save a project for use in an earlier version, EG-Future would have to "downgrade" the project content to remove/translate the new stuff to something that the earlier version (EG-Past) can deal with.
Of course, on a technical level, it could be done. It would involve lots of development and testing, plus some compromises when "down-converting". But since your downgraded projects couldn't be relied upon to run the same way as you designed them in the newer version, the loss of integrity is a show-stopper for many people. A "Save as compatible version" would be convenient for transition times such as this, but I'm not sure that's compelling enough to make it worth the large development cost.
Having said all of that, I'd love to see a way for EG to share a collection of content from the project at a higher level. Today, we've got SAS data sets, SAS programs, and stored processes -- all shareable among multiple applications. It would be cool to take that to another level and allow more of your EG project work to be re-used in other places (including perhaps earlier EG versions). That concept is under discussion here, but I don't have specific ideas/plans to share.
05-24-2012 08:37 PM
Thanks for the reply. I'm quite used to other products such as Microsoft Excel (and many others) operating in compatibility mode, where the "Excel-past" file was opened with "Excel-future". Alternatively, a new file created in "Excel-future" can be saved as "Excel-past", with warnings given when features will be lost. Like you said, it would involve additional development and testing. And I wonder how long "transition times" last - are there any customers still running EG 4.22, or even EG 3.x? I would guess that transition times could last 5 years or more - certainly enough for multiple versions of EG to be released.
@Jay, although I have both EG 4.3 and EG 5.1 installed on my desktop, I can't predict when a colleague may need the complex EG project I've created in 5.1, and I simply won't have the time to recreate the project in EG 4.3. I'll have to hold off using EG 5.1 until all of my colleagues have their EG installs upgraded. By my IT department, which is an exercise in itself. I'll revisit EG 5.1 then.
05-25-2012 12:28 AM
I'd love to see a way for EG to share a collection of content from the project at a higher level. Today, we've got SAS data sets, SAS programs, and stored processes -- all shareable among multiple applications.
I think that the lack of clear methods to allow multi-user teams working on dozens (or hundreds) of simultaneous projects to share tools and information is one reason why adaption of EG by large customers has been slow. Perhaps I have not made it over the hump on the learning curve, but I cannot see how to use EG to improve productivity over existing collaborative tools that have been build around managed SAS programs and data sources.